By Tabora Bojang
UP to 30 Gambian journalists are currently undergoing a 10-day capacity building training workshop on transitional justice and sensitive conflict reporting at the Paradise Suites Hotel.
The event, organised by the Gambia Press Union with funding from the West African Network for Peace Building, Wanep, and the United Nations Development Programme, is aimed at equipping Gambian journalists with the required paraphernalia to effectively report on transitional justice procedures and sensitive conflict reporting as the country heals from 22 years of dictatorial rule.
Speaking at the event, Information minister Demba Jawo, commended the organisers for coming up with the initiative while describing it as “timely and relevant” in view of The Gambia’s ongoing transitional justice processes and road to democracy and good governance.
He said the Barrow government will continue to remain responsive and accountable and will endeavour to promote free and vibrant press as media freedom forms part of its key plans.
“Since the inception of the New Gambia, this government has taken concrete steps to undertake reforms in the media sector under the direction of President Barrow, the administration has promptly addressed issues pertaining to strengthening media freedom in our country,” Jawo said.
“Should the media actively support transitional justice measures as a proactive party seeking to influence public opinions, highlighting what it deems to be in the public interest – or should it simply become a neutral observer and report facts in a neutral manner?” Jawo threw the rhetorical gauntlet to the media.
According to him the development of the freedom of information bill to ensure accountability of public institutions is under way and will soon come into existence while urging media practitioners to make the best use of the media freedom they enjoy.
“The preparation of this bill is yet another milestone to the indication of this government’s commitment to adhere to international obligations and conventions,” he stated.
GPU president Emil Touray dilated on the important role played by the UNDP towards Gambia’s democratisation by supporting and encouraging the GPU in its endeavour.
He said the media as the fourth estate should endeavour in complementing government’s efforts in realising their objectives while urging journalists to desist from and be wary of negative unfounded social media messages and implored them to make the best use of the training.
The resource person for the training is Madam Ola Johnson, a transitional justice and sensitive conflict studies expert.